Economic Development in Rural America: A Case Study of Four Towns in South Central Missouri

Date of Graduation

Spring 2007


Master of Science in Communication Sciences and Disorders


Communication Sciences and Disorders

Committee Chair

Dimitri Ioannides


Economic development is becoming an increasingly important function of small town governments. However, a general lack of evaluation of economic development strategies challenges small town officials to choose the most effective development activities. This thesis hopes to contribute to existing research by investigating the economic development programs of four small cities in south central Missouri. Objectives of the research are as follows: (1) to identify and describe economic development strategies; (2) create a working definition of "effective" strategies; (3) evaluate strategies in terms of this definition; and (4) make recommendations that may be of use to economic developers in small towns. Data was gathered through interviews with officials in the towns who participate in economic development activities. Findings suggest that the traditional economic development focus of attracting new and expanding businesses to an area with financial incentives is no longer effective or cost efficient. The new trend in economic development is toward strategies that support a local economy from within, such as regional partnerships and support for existing local business. Further research is needed to evaluate the effectiveness of these new strategies.


economic development, rural development, small towns, Licking, Missouri, Mountain Grove, Missouri, Houston, Missouri, West Plains, Missouri

Subject Categories

Communication Sciences and Disorders


© Janice Lorrain